"One Hour Certificates" expelled from the market

February 01, 2017

The Ministry of Economics and RusAccreditation introduced amendments to the State Duma which regulate the work of bodies issuing mandatory and voluntary certificates of conformity. According to the departments plan, these amendments should bring the Russian accreditation system closer to the requirements of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation and help Russian exporters. One of the most notable concepts is a ban on advertising the possibility of obtaining certificates without specifying the details of the issuing bodies.

Yesterday, the State Duma's Committee on Economic Policy received amendments to the laws on advertising and accreditation introduced by the Russian White House. These amendments introduce changes to the work of the conformity assessment bodies. Such activities is the responsibility of RusAccreditation, the body under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Economics, which controls the certification bodies and testing laboratories issuing product certificates and test reports.

In December 2016, the government promised to engage in a serious “cleaning” procedure on this market (toughen responsibility for unfair certification up to criminal level) and consolidate activities of tax and customs services to identify the permanent sources of forged certificates. These measures are mentioned in the strategy for combating illicit trafficking in industrial commodity markets for the period 2020-2025. In December, it was approved by the Russian White House. So far, however, the amendments introduced by RusAccreditation seem softer, but the Ministry says they will discuss the tools while preparing the draft for the second reading.

At this moment, the draft submitted to the State Duma by RusAccreditation suggests prohibiting advertisements on issuing certificates for products from non-accredited companies and those companies that do not specify the details of the issuing authority. Changes will also affect the accreditation procedures. One can find both tightening and easing requirements for market participants. Among the first, for example, there are new grounds for unscheduled inspections - from the threat to life and health of citizens and possible emergencies to misleading of consumers. Departments offer to stop accreditation of laboratories and certification bodies which put off the procedure for confirming competence for more than half a year (it obliges companies to submit a package of documents confirming the opportunity to work and pass a so-called onsite assessment). As Kommersant explained, now there are companies on the market that withdraw applications for confirmation of competence after its submission or evade it in other ways. The new amendments will deprive them of the opportunity to work without such a confirmation. The department can already stop accrediting companies that evade the procedure (during 2016, it used to stop the work of 50-60 organizations a month), but there was no clear deadline in the law before.

Now according to the data from the Head of Association of Testing Laboratories SILA Andrey Kezhayev, the price of "one hour certificate" without the expert's on-site visit and testing of samples can reach 100 thousand rubles per one document. According to Aleksey Kabanov, a representative of the certification center SERKONS, "nothing prevents hundreds of intermediary offices from advertising deliberately inflated prices and ambiguous terms of work in one or two days." In general, he says, tightening regulation in the markets for compulsory and voluntary certification is evident.

The developers explain the necessity for amendments in the following way: it is necessary to eliminate regulatory gaps and harmonize the legislation with the requirements of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). In November 2016, ILAC experts audited the Russian certification system and came into the conclusion that it met the requirements of the organization. RusAccreditation hopes to create a civilized market, join these organizations and, in the long run, enable exporters to recognize Russian test reports abroad.

Concerning indulgences for fair participants, it is offered to include the opportunity to update their scope of accreditation in legislation (there is no such a term in the current profile law, but this procedure is mentioned in the technical regulations of the Customs Union). Also, laboratories are encouraged to remedy any errors that threaten termination of accreditation within 40, rather than 20, days.

Sofia Okun

// Kommersant